Traffic heads down Highway 11/17 near the Hodder Avenue interchange
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The expansion of Highway 11/17 east of Thunder Bay has officially opened a year ahead of schedule.
The three-year six-kilometre expansion of the highway including an interchange at Hodder Avenue was opened to traffic sooner than expected and cost around $50 million. The four-lane divide was a part of the provinces more than $4.5 billion investment in northern highways since 2003.
The expansion is expected to improve travel times.
MPP Michael Gravelle (Lib, Thunder Bay – Superior North) said since he was elected, he wanted to have this project completed. Now that it’s complete, he said it’s a dream come true.
“It’s truly the beginning of a four-lane highway,” Gravelle said. “This is a requirement of any four-lane highway project. The only way we could build a four-lane highway was to begin with this significant interchange.”
Gravelle said it’s rare to have a project wrapped up a year in advance but didn’t know offhand how much was saved.
A spokesperson for the Minister of Transportation said they haven’t calculated the savings yet but expected it be significant.
There’s currently four other ongoing highway expansions happening in the North. Another project is the 14-kilometre section of Mackenzie Road to Birch Beach, which is scheduled to be completed next year.
With four more expansion projects in the workers, Gravelle said it just shows that the government is invested in the North.
“We’re going to have within two or three years around 50 kilometres of four-laning completed and our commitment that the project will be done in a reasonable period of time,” he said.
Ontario Chambers of Commerce’s Barry Streib said they have advocated for a northern highway improvements for years and was glad to see the highway official opened.
“It’s important to the safety of our citizens that travel along here and it’s important for the economic flow of our region,” Streib said.
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